The government has revealed plans for a new statutory body for upholding environmental standards that will have powers to enforce laws post-Brexit and ‘hold the powerful to account’.
Currently, environmental decisions made in the UK, from improving air and water quality to protecting endangered species, are overseen by the European Commission, which monitors targets, scrutinises new legislation and takes action against illegal behaviour.
Despite a commitment to enshrine the entirety of existing EU law in British law post-Brexit, many are concerned about a looming ‘governance gap’, with no institution in place to oversee the enforcement and upkeep of all environmental protections.
To fill the gap, environment secretary Michael Gove has announced plans to consult on a brand new statutory body in 2018, which will be independent of government and “able to speak its mind freely”.
The new body will have the power to enforce standards, advise and challenge government, encourage transparency and prevent damaging environmental behaviour.
Gove said the “world-leading” body would “give the environment a voice and hold the powerful to account”.
“It will be placed on a statutory footing, ensuring it has clear authority. Its ambition will be to champion and uphold environmental standards, always rooted in rigorous scientific evidence.”
The environment secretary has been a strong proponent of a ‘Green Brexit’, and has described it as an “historic opportunity” to review environmental policies.
A consultation on the specific powers and scope of the new body will be launched early next year.